Giants beat Reds to force Game 5


By JOE KAY

Associated Press

CINCINNATI — Angel Pagan connects on the second pitch of the game. A Giants team that finished last in homers goes on to hit three. Tim Lincecum pitches like a two-time Cy Young winner — this time, out of the bullpen.

So many unusual things moved San Francisco to the verge of an unprecedented comeback.

Pagan hit the first leadoff homer in Giants postseason history, and Gregor Blanco and Pablo Sandoval connected later for an 8-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday that evened their NL division series at 2-all.

No team has recovered from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-five series by winning three on the road, according to STATS LLC. This one can do it with a victory on Thursday at Great American Ball Park.

“Thanks to the win today, there will be a tomorrow,” Pagan said. “And we are ready for that.”

Matt Cain, who lost the series opener and has yet to beat the Reds in three tries this season, will start Game 5 against Mat Latos.

Facing elimination, the Giants’ slumping hitters came out swinging and extended Cincinnati’s playoff misery. The Reds haven’t won a postseason game at home in 17 years.

One thing in the Reds’ favor — they haven’t dropped three straight at home all season.

“I’d like to think that we still have the advantage,” Reds outfielder Jay Bruce said. “We’re at home. I expect Mat to come up with a big game. I’m looking forward to it.”

So are the Giants, who were down after losing the first two games at home while getting outscored 14-2. They were barely able to get a hit, let alone a win.

The pressure pulled them closer. Hunter Pence gathered them for inspirational speeches before the two games in Cincinnati, challenging them to play like champions.

“We feel good,” NL batting champion Buster Posey said. “When you’re down 0-2 you see what you’re made of. We’re not done.”

It wasn’t all about the offense. San Francisco’s overlooked Cy Young winner played a starring role, too.

Lincecum was relegated to the bullpen for the playoff series because of his dreary season — 15 losses, 17 wild pitches. He entered in the fourth inning, pitched out of a threat that kept the Giants up 3-2, and kept going.

The right-hander struck out six while allowing just one run in 4 1-3 innings.

“I knew he would play a huge role in this,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “And I know of other situations where starters have been in the ‘pen and really done a great job to help their team win. We knew Timmy would play a critical role in the series like he did tonight.”

The Reds were hoping to start ace Johnny Cueto, but had to drop him off the roster a few hours before Wednesday’s first pitch because he was still bothered by a strained muscle in his right side. He won’t be available if Cincinnati wins Game 5 and reaches the NL championship series.

The way the Giants have started hitting, that’s now in doubt.

San Francisco managed only four runs in the first three games of the series. The Giants avoided the sweep by pulling out a 2-1 win in 10 innings on Tuesday night with the help of a passed ball and an error by third baseman Scott Rolen.

They broke out against Mike Leake, who replaced Cueto and had a rough time. Leake threw his first career complete game in San Francisco on June 29 and was 3-0 career against the Giants.

Pagan homered to start it off for the Giants. Blanco hit a two-run shot in the second. The Giants had another breakthrough in the fifth, when back-to-back doubles by Joaquin Arias and Pagan ended an 0-for-14 slump with runners in scoring position during the series.

Sandoval’s two-run shot in the seventh made it 8-3, matched the Giants’ season high for homers and drew loud boos from the crowd of 44,375 — the third-largest at Great American Ball Park. Fans quietly settled into their seats and used their white rally towels as lap warmers against the evening chill.

The Giants normally don’t hit many homers — only 103 during the season, fewest in the majors. They’re only the seventh team since 1900 to reach the playoffs after finishing last in the majors in homers.

While the offense went to work, Lincecum bailed out the bullpen.

Bochy didn’t hesitate to put the guys he wanted on the mound, using four pitchers in the first four innings. Lincecum settled things down, giving up only two hits in his second relief appearance of the series.

He threw 42 strikes out of 55 pitches and even batted twice — just like a starter.

“The last two games, it’s been about scratching and leaving it on the field,” Lincecum said.

Bochy decided to go with left-hander Barry Zito over Lincecum for Game 4 because he was better down the stretch. Zito was left off the postseason roster when San Francisco won the World Series in 2010, but finished the regular season with seven straight wins.

The left-hander lasted only 2 2-3 innings, his shortest career outing in the postseason. On came Lincecum to save the day.

The Reds finished with the second-best record in the majors at 97-65, one game behind Washington. The rotation was the foundation of their championship season, with all five starters making it through healthy — a franchise first.

Things changed dramatically when Cueto had to leave the first inning of the playoff series opener on Saturday with the injury. The Reds made it through that game with Latos filling in for a 5-2 victory, but couldn’t win without him on Wednesday.

Series glance

Cincinnati 2, San Francisco 2

Saturday, Oct. 6: Cincinnati 5, San Francisco 2

Sunday, Oct. 7: Cincinnati 9, San Francisco 0

Tuesday, Oct. 9: San Francisco 2, Cincinnati 1, 10 innings

Wednesday: San Francisco 8, Cincinnati 3

Today: San Francisco (Cain 16-6) at Cincinnati (Latos 14-4), 7:07 a.m. (TBS)

Giants 8, Reds 3

San Francisco AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

Pagan cf 3 2 2 2 2 0 .200

Scutaro 2b 4 1 1 1 0 0 .125

Sandoval 3b 4 1 3 3 0 0 .294

Posey 1b 4 0 0 0 1 0 .200

Belt 1b 0 0 0 0 0 0 .111

Pence rf 4 0 1 0 0 1 .125

H.Sanchez c 2 1 1 0 2 1 .500

G.Blanco lf 4 1 1 2 0 2 .300

B.Crawford ss 2 0 0 0 0 0 .000

Lincecum p 2 0 0 0 0 1 .000

S.Casilla p 0 0 0 0 0 0 —-

Zito p 1 0 0 0 0 0 .000

Kontos p 0 0 0 0 0 0 —-

Mijares p 0 0 0 0 0 0 —-

Arias ss 3 2 2 0 0 1 .500

Totals 33 8 11 8 5 6

Cincinnati AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

B.Phillips 2b 4 0 1 1 0 2 .368

Cozart ss 5 0 2 0 0 0 .235

Votto 1b 5 1 2 0 0 2 .357

Ludwick lf 4 1 1 1 1 1 .308

Bruce rf 3 0 0 0 1 1 .267

Frazier 3b 3 0 0 1 1 2 .000

D.Navarro c 3 0 1 0 1 2 .333

Stubbs cf 4 1 1 0 0 1 .188

Leake p 2 0 1 0 0 1 .500

LeCure p 0 0 0 0 0 0 —-

a-Cairo ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 .000

Arredondo p 0 0 0 0 0 0 —-

Hoover p 0 0 0 0 0 0 —-

b-Heisey ph 1 0 0 0 0 1 .000

Simon p 0 0 0 0 0 0 —-

Totals 35 3 9 3 4 13

San Francisco 120 020 300—8 11 1

Cincinnati 101 001 000—3 9 0

a-grounded out for LeCure in the 6th. b-struck out for Hoover in the 8th.

E—Lincecum (1). LOB—San Francisco 5, Cincinnati 10. 2B—Pagan (1), Scutaro (1), Sandoval (2), Arias 2 (2), Stubbs (1). HR—Pagan (1), off Leake; G.Blanco (1), off Leake; Sandoval (1), off Arredondo; Ludwick (2), off Zito. RBIs—Pagan 2 (3), Scutaro (1), Sandoval 3 (3), G.Blanco 2 (2), B.Phillips (5), Ludwick (2), Frazier (1). CS—Pagan (1). S—Scutaro. SF—Sandoval, B.Phillips.

Runners left in scoring position—San Francisco 2 (Pence, Posey); Cincinnati 6 (D.Navarro 2, Votto, Ludwick 2, Heisey). RISP—San Francisco 3 for 7; Cincinnati 0 for 7.

Runners moved up—Pagan, Posey, Cairo. GIDP—Pence, Lincecum.

DP—Cincinnati 2 (B.Phillips, Cozart, Votto), (Frazier, Cozart, Votto).

San Francisco IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA

Zito 2 2-3 4 2 2 4 4 76 6.75

Kontos 2-3 2 0 0 0 1 9 0.00

Mijares 1-3 0 0 0 0 1 5 81.00

Lincecum W, 1-0 4 1-3 2 1 1 0 6 55 1.42

S.Casilla 1 1 0 0 0 1 25 3.00

Cincinnati IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA

Leake L, 0-1 4 1-3 6 5 5 2 1 71 10.38

LeCure 1 2-3 1 0 0 0 3 20 0.00

Arredondo 1-3 3 3 3 1 0 19 20.25

Hoover 1 2-3 0 0 0 1 1 15 0.00

Simon 1 1 0 0 1 1 22 0.00

Inherited runners-scored—Kontos 1-0, Mijares 2-0, Lincecum 2-0, LeCure 1-1, Hoover 1-0.

Umpires—Home, Dan Iassogna; First, Tom Hallion; Second, Chad Fairchild; Third, Phil Cuzzi; Right, Gerry Davis; Left, Brian O’Nora.

T—3:35. A—44,375 (42,319).

How they scored

Giants first. Pagan homered to right on a 0-1 count. Scutaro flied out to right fielder Bruce. Sandoval doubled to left. Posey flied out to right fielder Bruce, Sandoval to third. Pence struck out.

1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Giants 1, Reds 0.

Reds first. B.Phillips popped out to left fielder G.Blanco. Cozart flied out to right fielder Pence. Votto singled to center. Ludwick walked on a full count, Votto to second. Bruce walked, Votto to third, Ludwick to second. Frazier walked, Votto scored, Ludwick to third, Bruce to second. D.Navarro struck out.

1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 3 left on. Giants 1, Reds 1.

Giants second. H.Sanchez infield single to first. G.Blanco homered to center on a 0-1 count, H.Sanchez scored. B.Crawford grounded out, shortstop Cozart to first baseman Votto. Zito grounded out, shortstop Cozart to first baseman Votto. Pagan walked. Pagan was caught stealing, catcher D.Navarro to second baseman B.Phillips, Pagan out.

2 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 0 left on. Giants 3, Reds 1.

Reds third. Ludwick homered to left on a 1-2 count. Bruce popped out to left fielder G.Blanco. Frazier struck out. D.Navarro walked on a full count. Kontos pitching. Stubbs fouled out to shortstop B.Crawford.

1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 left on. Giants 3, Reds 2.

Giants fifth. Arias doubled to left. Pagan doubled to center, Arias scored. Scutaro sacrificed, pitcher Leake to first baseman Votto, Pagan to third. LeCure pitching. Sandoval hit a sacrifice fly to center fielder Stubbs, Pagan scored. Posey flied out to center fielder Stubbs.

2 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 0 left on. Giants 5, Reds 2.

Reds sixth. Stubbs doubled to left. Cairo pinch-hitting for LeCure. Cairo grounded out, third baseman Sandoval to first baseman Posey, Stubbs to third. B.Phillips hit a sacrifice fly to right fielder Pence, Stubbs scored. Cozart lined out to center fielder Pagan.

1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 left on. Giants 5, Reds 3.

Giants seventh. Arredondo pitching. Arias doubled to left. Pagan flied out to center fielder Stubbs, Arias to third. Scutaro doubled to center, Arias scored. Sandoval homered to right on a 2-1 count, Scutaro scored. Posey walked on a full count. Hoover pitching. Pence hit into a double play, second baseman B.Phillips to shortstop Cozart to first baseman Votto, Posey out.

3 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 0 left on. Giants 8, Reds 3.

 

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